Conn Smythe Trophy odds update: Finding value ahead of Round 2
When Johnny Gaudreau whipped a shot under the crossbar to end the Stars' season late Sunday night, Jake Oettinger could take solace in knowing he had edged Connor McDavid for first-round Conn Smythe winner.
Of course, since that's an award we just made up, someone close to Oettinger will have to visit their local trophy store and create a plaque for him. Though Oettinger's heroics might stand as the best performance of the postseason, they will be long forgotten by the time the real Conn Smythe Trophy voting happens in June. First-round performances, even for teams that reach the Stanley Cup Final, become fleeting memories.
After a one-day respite from bleary-eyed nights sweating overtime periods, bettors get a chance to take a refreshed look at the odds for playoffs MVP:
Conn Smythe Trophy odds
*Players listed longer than 50-1 are not included
Most players' odds have shortened as their respective teams get one step closer to the Stanley Cup, starting with a pair of Avalanche stars who are now co-favorites for playoff MVP.
We grabbed our share of McDavid before the postseason started, and his odds have been cut in half. But there's still a large gap between his 15-1 price tag and the Oilers' 10-1 Stanley Cup odds. While Mike Smith's quality play in net would be the thing to put Edmonton over the top for a championship, there's no way McDavid wouldn't win the award.
We must bid adieu to Kirill Kaprizov, one of the three players in our Conn Smythe portfolio. But we'll remember his playoff performance - seven goals in six games against the Blues - for future postseason betting. We'll have to say goodbye to another when McDavid and the Oilers face Matthew Tkachuk and the Flames in Round 2. Tkachuk is one of the few players on this board to see his odds lengthen after Gaudreau and Jacob Markstrom had more impact in the opening round. Tkachuk only had two fewer points than Gaudreau, though, so he can make up ground over three hypothetical series.
We've already bought good options between Edmonton and Calgary, there are too many Panthers candidates to choose from, and with such short odds on Colorado's Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar, there's no reason to add players from those teams before Round 2.
Instead, we'll look to the winners of two coin-flip first-round matchups whose players are more appealing now that they've survived a tough series.
Antti Raanta (+4500)
Raanta was something of a surprise starter in Game 1 against the Bruins, but no matter how you find a hot goalie, you keep him in the crease when he shows up. The Hurricanes get a favorable second-round matchup against the Rangers; a conference finalist's goaltender at 45-1 would be a nice ticket in the pocket, as Carolina would be inside of 4-1 to win it all.
There's plenty of time for the Hurricanes' top pre-playoff candidates - Andrei Svechnikov (+5000) and Sebastian Aho (+3000) - to put their stamp on a Stanley Cup run, but Carolina is deep enough to win with a wide distribution of offensive output throughout the roster. Those worried about Frederik Andersen's imminent return could put a little down on him at 100-1 to corner the Hurricanes goalie market.
Vladimir Tarasenko (+5000)
This one requires bettors to imagine a world in which the Blues upset the Avalanche. There's a roughly 20% chance it happens. If it does, St. Louis immediately becomes a contender, and a point-per-game star - who already has five goals - would look great at 50-1. Jordan Binnington (+5000) and David Perron (+5000) are also options, but Tarasenko has the narrative advantage that voters love after the Blues left him unprotected in last summer's expansion draft.
Matt Russell is a betting writer for theScore. If there's a bad beat to be had, Matt will find it. Find him on Twitter @mrussauthentic.